When things settle down

When was the last time you caught yourself thinking about what you'd like to do "when things settle down?" I suspect most of us tell ourselves the same myth: that things will, in fact, settle down when we know they probably never will. I know I've failed to write at least two books, clean out the garage, catch up with bookkeeping, and do any substantial yard work because things haven't "settled down." There are all kinds of service projects, time with friends, devotional practices, and reading that never seem to move to the front burner because -- you guessed it -- things just haven't settled down.

The real issue, of course, isn't "things" at all. It's me and my unrealistic expectations that a magical window of sufficient money and time and inspiration will somehow appear when the planets align or a white alligator appears in the bayou. But something sinister always manages to keep that from happening. The car air conditioning dies. The mower needs a new battery. The heatwave doesn't let up. The bank stops automatically loading transactions into my accounting software. Something always interferes. And when it does, I throw up my hands and call it a day. I may look like I'm persevering, but underneath it all, I have given up -- and much too easily.

The truth is that regardless of how hectic or unsettled life is, God's grace is always available. Simon Peter walked on water when the wind and waves were at their worst. Jesus did not silence the storm first. And yet, we somehow believe that he must do that for us. So we huddle together in the boat indefinitely and tell ourselves that we can't do anything else because the weather just won't cooperate. All the while, Jesus is there, within reach, bidding us to come to him and ready to save us when we falter. But we never venture out of the boat.

Too many of us have unwittingly traded the miracles God wants to do in and through us for comfort. We no longer aspire to walk on water; we just want to get out of the wind and rain. And when we live our lives that way, we never see what God can do. We never learn that even the smallest morsel of God's grace is more than sufficient.

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 knew better. She believed that Jesus could free her daughter from torment, from the inner storms that raged inside her. She called out to him, and when he did not answer, she called out louder. Instead of waiting for things to settle down, this woman approached Jesus with the most powerful prayer there is: "Lord, help me." She wasn't waiting to be served a three-course meal. She was content to feast on the scraps that fell from the Master's table. She trusted that even the scraps would be enough.

God does some of his most marvelous deeds when things are at their worst. He used Peter's "little faith" and the Canaanite woman's "great faith" just the same. And he will use ours, too. Things don't need to settle down in order for us to move forward with Christ. But we need to settle in and realize that God is with us in all of it. We don't have to wait for anything. Nothing depends on settling the circumstances around us or even within us. The only thing that matters is that Jesus is who he says he is. The Lord wants to show us how to walk on the waves. He wants to free us and feed us with his Body and Blood. And he wants to use our faith to show us his glory, whether things ever settle down or not.

- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.